Retail NZ backs food tampering bill

bigstock-A-Double-Headed-Strawberry-Whe-255438652Retail NZ has applauded a proposed bill to create stronger penalties for deliberate food contamination, such as the recent offences relating to consumers finding needles in purchased fruit.

The bill was proposed by National Party spokesperson for food safety Nathan Guy, who said the “industry is calling for it, consumers are calling for it, but the Government is just sitting on its hands.”

Retail NZ’s Greg Harford noted that it is essential that New Zealanders have confidence in the food and grocery sector, including at the retail sector.

“Indeed, our export sector and our economy are dependent on public confidence in food safety being maintained,” Harford said.

“The recent needle issues, and the baby formula threats a few years ago demonstrate how vulnerable our food sector is to criminal activity. While industry is doing its bit to safeguard security, we believe it is essential that there is a specific criminal offence dealing with this issue.”

Harford calls the recent food-related scares “economic terrorism”, and have imposed massive costs onto retailers, leading them to waste enormous amounts of food.

The proposed penalties would send a message to would-be criminals that the sabotage of New Zealand’s food supply would not be tolerated, said Harford, and echoes the actions already taken by the Australian Commonwealth Government to strengthen penalties in place associated with food terrorism.

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